Better late than never, 2 weeks after the big race in Vegas I don’t want to miss writing something about it…
The pre-race days were pretty easy going, Las Vegas yes, big party no. Staying with Jules in a cozy apartment driving back and forth to Henderson every day for registration, bike things, course check, swim, bike, run, the days were flying to Saturday’s bike check and breakfast with Amanda and the Soas Crew and finally Sunday morning, race day. The alarm clock went off at 4.15am, coffee, breakfast hop in the car to get to Henderson, and at the end the 15min we got out of the house late turned out to make me really nervous, T1 closed at 6am and we haven’t arrived at 5.40 yet… we made it but I hate having to rush on race morning. After bike preps Jules and I re-met and went to Lu’s hotel room to pass the time until 7.30, 7.50 respectively, watched the pro swim from there, had some water and laughs and off to the start…
Water start, was okay, the tiger doesn’t like water too much, I was swimming, not competing, didn’t find nice feet until the turning point and this time preferred to swim alone than behind zigzagging feet. The swim was warm, sometimes too warm and long… finally got out of the water and through the loooong transition zone, swim skin off, helmet, sunnies and out… again, loooong way until get on the bike. The first 2k uphill until reach the main road where surprisingly I spotted Lu on the other side which meant I she was only 1min ahead… Looking at the watts the whole time, don’t over pace, its hot, its hilly. It did not feel as hilly, concentrated in hydrating and not over pacing and pacing when necessary, passing an 84 year old athlete, that’s cool hey! I mean not that I was passing him, the guy and his age, one of the few moments when I really felt racing world championships; maybe the only one. Actually I was thinking a lot about the level here, seeing my co competitors around I was surprised that in terms of speed and appearance it did not really feel like world championships, it felt like every race, maybe a bit bigger. And hotter… on the up hills getting slow I could feel the heat and impressed me a bit, only a bit but maybe a bit too much.
Once passed the entrance to lake las Vegas I was riding expecting the last climb…. That never came. Well, a slight up hill but not really a climb… lesson learned. Do the bike course on the bike the week before the race if you have time.
T2 went well, my bag had the pole position, I had a volunteer with me, got sunscreen on my way out to the run and went off to the first of 3 laps. Downhill, fast, hot, like every race with several laps taking the first one to get to know the course. The first aid station was maybe a bit far, but came. Water. Water over me, water to drink more water over my head. Uphill. Back to T2 some flat meters, only few, turn left and more uphill. Eternal uphill… 180º turning point and down. Felt good, was fast but not fast enough to recover the slow uphill part. I knew it would not be a fast 21k and it would hurt. At this point I heard the words of Greg Bennett who we met on pre race evening at the supermarket. He said: it will be a tough day. This race is mental. Oh yes it was.
Second lap, the mentally most difficult one because it’s the one in between, not the first you learn to feel the course, not the last you finish the race. The long lap, the middle lap … don’t go too fast, there is one left after this one, don’t go too easy, don’t lose time. Maybe I should have thought more in this, instead I think my concentration went far for a while… I can’t really say, I only know that I started to put ice in my race top and it felt not even cold. I forgot to mention the small hill between the first and second downhill part. Come on! Hurt my legs!
Last lap. Down hill okay. Up hill slow, but still running. More water, more ice in the top. The last uphill. Hot, hurting, no mental power to go faster, I’m not sure if it was the mental power or the physical. Some meters before the last turning point to go the last downhill to the finish line I spotted a black one piece tri suit with a Spanish flag on the bib number, thinking: hey, a Spanish guy! Starts with a J… I guess I was a little bit in the tunnel by that stage because it was Jaime ;)
Last turning point and downhill, only 1,5 or 2k to go. I was flying to the finish and felt good. The finish line was in fact a bit sad. This is a world championship? I had no idea about my rank, I knew my time because of my watch and it was not the best one.
I got the biggest finisher medal of the century, hell this thing almost made me fall over, then onto the food tent with AC (nice detail), I grabbed some fruit and went out to the shadow to wait for the others to come. I can’t really tell what I thought by the time. I got bored by sitting around so I went to the food tent again and found Jules, recently finished, looking at me and saying “this was soooo hard”, and there was the big hug one needs at a finish line.
11th AG at the end and missed my top ten goal by 1’31’’… next time… and the game begins again...